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New Ads For The 2011 Toyota Sienna: Funny, But We've Seen Them Before

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Screencap from 2011 Toyota Sienna ad campaign

Screencap from 2011 Toyota Sienna ad campaign

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2011 Toyota Sienna

2011 Toyota Sienna

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Minivans and SUVs often tout their safety features, which are big selling points for moms and dads. The 2011 Hyundai Sonata ad Nelson Ireson posted yesterday, for example, was aimed squarely at parents concerned about their kids' well-being. Today, we've run across some clips for the 2011 Toyota Sienna that have a similar slant but sadly fail to measure up to the Hyundai spot.

The videos in question are directed by Jody Hill and feature two very talented actors, Brian Huskey and Rachel Drummond, who appear as "[t]he self-proclaimed world's greatest parents". Though grammatically clunky, that premise is moderately funny, and the acting is fine, but as ads go, the length and the writing need some work.

The length of the clips varies, but some are well over a minute, and a few go beyond that. Huskey and Drummond's portrayal of clueless, self-absorbed parents is humorous at first, but after 30 seconds, it peters out and we drift off. Reminder to Ms. Hill: brevity is the soul of wit.

The writing isn't necessarily bad, either, but it's not breaking any new ground. In fact, if you've seen Huskey's commercials for Sonic, you've seen his geeky, offbeat character before. In fact, if you've seen any film by Christopher Guest -- Spinal Tap, Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show -- you've seen this whole campaign. As a result, it's not that memorable.

While we pop back to the Sonata clip (which we really can't stop watching), have a look at a couple of ads from the Sienna campaign, and let us know if we're being too harsh. Maybe Toyota should consider a new campaign featuring Boyota? Hey, at least they'd bring their own snazzy theme music.

[YouTube via KickingTires]

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Comments (20)
  1. Yeah.... I think you're reaching a bit, Bro, in your criticism of the Sienna commercials because they're incredibly well done & should be spun off into a comedy sitcom on NBC! This is right up there with the tv show "Modern Family" & is WAAAYY better than NBC's "Parks & Recreations". Great job Toyota!
     
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  2. @Josch -- I stand by my critique, but I agree with you on one point: the quality of the Sienna commercials IS pretty much on par with everything that NBC's cranking out these days.
     
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  3. We were trying to decide on the honda or the seinna and these ads made our choice easy. I hated the sienna ads so much I cannot bring myself to even test drive one. I am a parent of three and so I need a minivan but I do not want to be portrayed as someone who would use the term 'swagger' wagon. Yes, I get it, it's supposed to be funny. I might buy a gag gift because of a funny ad but a minivan is almost 30K so funny doesn't sell me something I have to make payments on. I honestly felt offended after watching those ads; I said 'FU toyota' to the tv. A minivan isn't something I want to buy, it's a vehicle I have to buy because my kids are growing. They are currently squeezed into an xB. I don't need the people selling minivans to sarcastically point out how much they suck to be seen in.
     
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  4. BB's comment hits the nail on the head. The agency who is behind it needs to re-read David Ogilvie's book. You shouldn't disrespect your target audience or ridicule those who buy your product....and don't forget the REASONS people buy....Trust me, it's not to have a "swagger wagon".
    Remember Clara Pell was funny...and Wendys famously lost sales. I expect the Honda will get some extra customers from this ad campaign.
     
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  5. We just bought a Honda and I gotta say that those self absorbed siena ads helped sway my buying choice. BB did nail it. Minivans are practical, thats why we buy them. Sliding doors means the kids can open them in the garage without banging into bikes and shovels. I don't know who David Ogilivie is but if he said don't ridicule your customer then he's dead on. Oh and nice going Toyota with having the dufus dad be a balding guy quoting rap music so he looks young. I'll bet the hipsters who wrote those ads do laugh at us Dads. Ha, look at those losers they say, p-whipped minivan driving losers. Well, it was a p-whipped stationwagon driving loser who paid your way through Brown so you can be a madison avenue wizard riduculing your parents.
     
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  6. Advertisers have hit rock hard bottom... Make an ordinary product and rely on lame advertising is where everything has moved towards... Companies need to look back at earlier recessions. Make a high/good quality product, make it affordable, make it in America/ or at least parts of the product. And push honest, non confrontational, non sarcastic scripts that don't run every 15 seconds. With technology now email, twitter, facebook, myspace, blah blah yada yada, a good quality product will sell it's self and not become redundantly annoying. example At&t with that wilson dude... LAMEO.... Toyota sienna commercial... LAMEO. Stop telling us what to buy and start showing us why the educated consumer (yes we still exist), needs to research this product and invest our hard earned and saved money into that product. All these stupid do-dads and gizmos are stupid and redundant. I apologize for the rant but hope someone is listening....
     
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  7. Well, I guess it depends on your definition of success. Mine is that it sells more minivans than it would have otherwise. Hard to quantify that. But some indicators are "is it divisive," and "do many people talk about it - positively or negatively?" In this case, it is divisive (read: a very good sign) and it does seem to have a lot of people talking about it. Now, will it sell more minivans? Guess that remains to be seen. But I'd never heard of the van until this campaign, so that's a start. Data sample size of 1. :-)
     
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  8. If you have never heard of the toyota sienna then you were never even close to being in the minivan target demographic. I have read some positive things about the ad campaign but never from anyone who might actually purchase a van. Anyway we are quite enjoying our recently purchased Honda van, although it's no swaggerwagon.
     
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  9. You know who I laugh at the most? Myself. It's for that very reason that I absolutley love the Sienna commercials. If you can't laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at?
    Bottom line: Minivans are in no way meant to "be seen" in. They're about as utilitarian as you get. And for that very reason these ads are perfect. Huskey & Drummond are great as the suburban parents who have decided that despite what we're told, a car is a car is a car. So why not have some fun with it?
    After all, haven't we had enough of the baritone-voiced white guy voiceover during yet another 30-second look-how-well-this-thin-handles-turns spot? If I want to check out all the features and benefits of a car, I'll do it on my own time ... not rely on a 30-second commercial to tell me all about it.
     
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  10. Jody Hill is a man.
     
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  11. Eli, I was just going to post the same thing.
    Richard, imdb is your friend. Then you'd know that Jody Hill is a man who has written/directed two films, as well as a fairly popular HBO series (Eastbound and Down). And if you were familiar with his work, you'd know the kinds of characters he creates.
    To the person recommending that the agency re-read Ogilvie and claiming that the ads disrespect the target audience - I am reminded of a piece of advice I was given years ago: If you don't get it, you're not in the target audience.
    I'm a parent who will likely need to buy an SUV soon. I'm also a fan of Jody Hill (and his cohort Danny McBride) and I like quirky humor. And I think these ads are funny. To echo another poster above, I don't an ad to gravely intone all the important features of a vehicle. I don't want an ad that simply tries to be the least offense, to be the lowest common denominator, and appeal to all. Humor is good.
     
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  12. Con't: It's fair to argue if the humor works as intended. But to cry that this ad is made by "hipsters laughing at dads" as one poster does above is simply ignorant of the marketplace and audience: There's a lot of us former "hipsters" who are now parents, and the idea of having a sense of humor about our lives appeals to us. Again, if you don't get it, you're not the target audience.
    And to Ty above, I hope no one is listening to you. You contradict yourself: if email and Twitter with allow people to grass-roots educate each other on quality products, then why *can't* the advertising be fun and irreverent. If, as you say, Twitter allows products to "sell themselves," then make the advertising interesting.
    There's a lot of people here who don't seem to know the first thing about advertisers or the marketplace.
     
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  13. (con't, although it claims this is a dupe post) It's fair to argue if the humor works as intended. But to cry that this ad is made by "hipsters laughing at dads" as one poster does above is simply ignorant of the marketplace and audience: There's a lot of us former "hipsters" who are now parents, and the idea of having a sense of humor about our lives appeals to us. Again, if you don't get it, you're not the target audience.
    And to Ty above, I hope no one is listening to you. You contradict yourself: if email and Twitter with allow people to grass-roots educate each other on quality products, then why *can't* the advertising be fun and irreverent. If, as you say, Twitter allows products to "sell themselves," then make the advertising interesting.
    There's a lot of people here who don't seem to know the first thing about advertising or the marketplace.
     
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  14. Well, that explains why it told me I was double posting. Too bad it didn't load my second post so I'd believe it. Oh, well, sorry for the double post, doubled typos and all.
     
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  15. Well said John B. I couldn't agree more. Advertising should be interesting & funny. The smart, quirky dad & mom who flaunt their 'awesomeness' lightens up the mood. Minivans aren't cool but thats cool b/c you're a parent now. Sure taking care of the kids can be a nuisance but thats life. Have a laugh, be yourself. These ads tap into the witty for being witty sakes marketplace. No truly responsible parent decides on a safe vehicle for their family from a 30 second commercial. Just as most parents don't cock their fingers into the shape of a gun & hang their arm out the window, to blast into the air. Right??? LOL
     
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  16. Last weekend, I traded my 7-year old Honda Odyssey mini-van for a 2011 Toyota Sienna. I based my decision on a test drive and comparison of the new Odyssey and Volkswagon Routan, and checking all the ratings and reviews on Consumer Reports. After purchasing the car, a friend of mine pointed me to the Toyota Sienna commercials, which my husband and I find hilarious. I like the self-deprecating humor and the "get over yourselves/ you're not too cool to drive a mini-van" message, particularly since I once swore in my 20s that I would never drive a mini-van! I think the commercials are fun and catchy, but more importantly, I'm happy with my purchase of a great car with awesome features, lots of room for our family of 3, and safety features.
     
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  17. I am a 40yo Mom of 5. I did not find the Hyundai commercial funny at all. I was more horrified that my kids would be trying that. I think toyota out did themselves. All of my friends who own mini vans now call their vans swagger wagons as a joke. The commercials are funny. People want to be able to laugh at themselves. This commercial succeeds at making the "over 30 with kids" crowd feel like less of a dork for driving a mini van. Bravo to Toyota!
     
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  18. I think some of you take yourselves WAY too seriously. My husband and I (and many of our friends) cracked up at the Sienna commercial. It never occurred to any of us to feel insulted or made fun of; it was a funny, well done campaign that helped us chuckle at the things we do for our kids - like drive a slightly less than awesome minivan. We currently have an SUV and my husband is still fighting against a minivan, but when he saw the new Sienna and all it's features, even he was tempted. We happen to be a Honda family, but I would at least test drive a Sienna, which wouldn't have occurred to me before seeing the commercial. So to that end, they accomplished their goal. And, for what it's worth, I know a lot of people who now laughingly refer to their minivans as swagger wagons.
     
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  19. I hate those Sienna commercials. The newest one, where the mom says that people mistake her for a hot babysitter, is the worst. The strategically placed hipster slang ("rockin mom jeans," "roll in our swagger wagon" etc) grates on my nerves like nothing else - and I AM their demographic - a 30 something, current and pop culture savvy mom. It doesn't impress us; it insults us.
     
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  20. The Sienna ads and some of the comments attached herein do prove one thing. It's truly impossible to underestimate the stupidity of the American public. Breeders like BB and HG demonstrate clearly why allowing just anyone to vote (or breed without a license, I mean you have to have a license to drive a car or own a dog for christ's sake) has resulted in the bizarre political landscape we find ourselves in today. It really is a world where people throw ducks at balloons and nothing makes sense.
     
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